Friday, July 31, 2009

Where would you love to wake up tomorrow?

(Canada chronicles continued ...)

Saw this downtown Montreal on Wednesday evening and thought it was a great idea. You email them and tell them where you want to wake up tomorrow and they write your answer on the window in real time. Read more about it here ... and email your answer if so inclined.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

... and now for some French lessons à la Montréal

(Canada chronicles continued ...)

Je suis ici à Montréal (I am here in Montreal), I mainly seem to be drawn to take photos of signs, maybe because they're in French. A great way to learn. Life is our best classroom.
Maintenant, le mercredi soir, je suis ici dans ce café 'downtown'. (Now, on Wednesday evening, I'm in this café downtown). Just in case I don't go to any cafés to blog or check email tomorrow, I'm pre-shceduling this as Thursday's post.
After buying a drink or something to eat (I bought darjeeling tea), they give you a card with a code to type in and connect to the wireless. Pouvez-vous comprendre le français?
J'aime cette poubelle (I like this dustbin). If I'm reading it correctly, it's basically saying 'hungry dustbin seeks dirty pizza'. Funny. Great idea to get people to throw rubbish in the bin by sticking clever signs like that. I wonder if it will work in Trinidad.

Because there are others ... think. Slow down. (At least, minus my dictionary and given the context, I would guess that 'ralentissez' means 'slow down').
And who can translate what this French chien (dog) is saying?

Wawa is the name of the company being advertised, but this Montreal billboard also implies that "wawa" is how dogs bark in French (or at least how humans would spell a French dog's bark).

I often wonder if animals in different countries have different accents. I first really wondered a few years ago when I was in Grenada and heard a barking dog, closely followed by a bleating goat, both sounding (to me) markedly different to those in Trinidad.

Has anyone else ever heard or wondered about animal accents?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sunny day

(Canada chronicles continued ...)

we left our skin

hanging in sun

leaving us with nothing

but what matters

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Toronto tendrils

(Canada chronicles continued ...)
Maintenant je suis à Montréal autre fois (Now I am in Montreal again). Circled in red in the above photo is the café I'm in now (Café Choix Suprème) ... "the café down the road" where I use wireless internet once I'm here.
I used Supernova to spontaneously snap one of the huge billowing Canadian flags on the side of the highway as we headed to Montreal. Considering our speed, the way the flag was billowing, plus the fact that I had both zoomed in and snapped really quickly ... look at the clarity. No blur. What an amazing little camera.
Yesterday, leaving Toronto, I felt strange and sad. A cloud sat on my chest. Maybe it was the act of packing clothing into a little suitcase for the week in Montreal that made me feel on a subtle level what it will be like on the day I pack to return to TT. Had I not extended my stay, I would indeed have been leaving ... in three days. As we drove out of the city, heading for Montreal, the strange feeling persisted. I had felt it the last time too ... as though there were little heart-centred energetic tendrils connecting me to TO. I could feel them stretching and becoming thinner the further we pulled from the city ... but they didn't disappear. I sat quietly, feeling to burst into tears.

Sometimes I think "Am I making up this feeling?" No, how could I be? "Am I creating an illusion?" No, I don't think so. Then I think: "Well, am I on holiday?" No, it's not that either.

But ... why question? Just enjoy what is enjoyed and leave it at that.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Spontaneous Wet Adventures and Goodwill Fashions

(Canada chronicles continued ...)
Goodwill Fashions on the 504 bus to Dundas West Station

On Friday, after the sunny, smiley day in Tinto, I went to visit my new friend, Kaspar, just off Roncesvalles Avenue. As we sat eating and talking, we heard an unexpectedly loud roll of thunder out of the blue ... or rather, out of the greyish-black. He quickly suggested that we go for our walk to see the nearby "beach" (i.e. Lake Ontario) before it started to rain.

Luckily I had my army raincoat with me. He had an umbrella. As we headed out, it was drizzling, but we thought nothing of it. The wind began to gust and his umbrella was bending back, so we stopped at the Goodwill thrift store at the corner to see if there was a raincoat he could buy. No luck ... but the rain and wind seemed to be abating. We proceeded to 'the beach'.

It took us 5 minutes to get there, on a bridge over the highway. It was about 6 p.m. when we hit the edge of the water, which was grey and tossing with little white caps. Kaspar walked ahead and I lagged behind, taking photos and picking up stones and sea glass. Pretty soon the rain started to pelt and the wind picked up considerably. Even the gulls (one of which almost crashed into Kaspar) were having a hard time flying. The raindrops began coming at us almost horizontally.

The top part of my body and my head were dry under the hooded raincoat, but the rest of me was by now soaked! My jeans were stuck to my legs and my trackshoes were flooded. I began to laugh, envisioning myself attempting to head home sogging wet on public transport. The wetter I got, the more I began to laugh, with the growing realisation that I would have to stop at that thrift store on the way home and purchase dry clothes.

Other than a pair of black winter boots with sheepskin lining, the only footwear that looked like it didn't belong to a very large man, a petite woman or little child was a pair of black slippers with Canada written on them. Compared to the other shoes available, they looked brand new/never worn (still had stickers on them) and were only $1.99 (no tax to be added - I guess because it's Goodwill). I removed one foot from a waterlogged sneaker, peeled off a soaking sock and slipped in. Perfect fit ... (and actually I quite like them).
The pants I bought ($5-something) were long, black and straight-legged with convenient pockets and a waterproof, almost leathery appearance. They're not pants I would have bought on a regular day, but I knew they would fit me and didn't have to try them on there. I wonder who they belonged to before.

Back at the house, I slipped into my new, dry ensemble, drank a cup of Kaspar's hot orange and ginger tea with honey and, at about 7:30 p.m., headed out to get the first of two buses, feeling like a Goodwill fashions bag lady: long black leathery pants, black Canada slippers à la Maple leaf, striped woolen hat (which luckily I had in my bag, as my head was feeling cold), khaki jacket and brown vest, napsack on my back (containing laptop), large green market bag in one hand (bearing wet sneakers and jeans), bag slung over shoulder (stuffed to capacity with wet raincoat, wallet and other paraphernalia). Thankfully Toronto is a place of diverse and layered fashions, so no one gave me a second glance. In my slippered feet and still feeling slightly damp, I was glad that it wasn't too chilly and was no longer raining.

I came straight home, made some soup with kale, bulgar and tomatoes, drank that and, after pottering around for a while, went to sleep, still chuckling at it all.

(P.S. I am scheduling this to be automatically posted on Monday. By that time I will be on the way to Montreal, where I will have no internet unless I go to the little café down the road).

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Staring (the Caribbean and Canadian ways)

Public transport ... a great place to observe people

(Canada chronicles continued ...)

The other day I was on a bus and it stopped to pick up a woman. If you are from the Caribbean, you will understand when I say she looked like a Mabel or Tantie Merle. She sat in the seat adjacent to me, so I was able to see her face and where/how she was looking when a young girl came onto the bus. Mabel started to 'eye up' the girl, looking her up and down repeatedly, scanning her outfit with a disapproving pout of the upper lip. She didn't have to speak for me to hear her thinking about 'dem young people nowadays and how dey does dress." This alone gave me a clue that she could be originally from the Caribbean. She continued to stare shamelessly at the girl for the duration of my bus ride (about 3 minutes).

I've noticed that Canadian people on the other hand are more polite and subtle with staring (if they stare at all). I've noticed this on a few occasions on which I thought "If this happened in Trinidad, people would be macoing, staring unabashedly and possibly making loud comments."

The most recent occasion occured when I was at a subway station last Thursday. There was an overweight woman with a small beard, shabbily dressed. She was carrying about ten bags (the plastic kind you get at the grocery and have to pay 5 cents for if you don't bring your own market bag. Something Trinidad & Tobago would do well to adopt). I thought nothing of her or her bags until we got onto the train. As I sat down and pulled a jacket out of my bag, I got a strong whiff of urine. I was alarmed, wondering if my jacket (for some unkown reason) had urine on it or if the seat I had just sat on had old urine soaked in it. Then, to my relief (because it was neither of those), I saw the bag lady sorting through her treasures ... a few feet away from me. She was slowly opening each bag and closing it again. Each bag emitted a new, loud, increasingly unbearable stench.
Garbage strike has been on since before I arrived in early July

From where I sat, I observed her. Not in the Mabel-woman way (staring her up and down), but more à la David Attenborough hiding in a bush, whispering as he observes wild animals on one of his nature documentaries. At the same time, I was also observing the two girls sitting across the aisle from her. They both had on earphones and were listening to music. Every now and then their eyes would slide across to the woman for a quick, updated glance and return to staring straight ahead, back into their music. At one point, as the stench became particularly intense, near to stifling, they quickly glanced at each other, exchanged polite that-smells-awful smiles and returned to the music.

Some children all dressed in "Toronto Walks" (rain or shine) raincoats swarmed onto the train with their guardian and gathered in the corner where I was sitting. Within seconds, their stubby fingers were on their noses like clothes pegs. I saw their eyes search our surroundings for the source of the stench and, once they saw the woman and her bags, they didn't need to look again. They just continued holding their noses as they discussed serious issues like:

"Do you think if you fell halfway off the CN Tower you would die?"

"No. Only if you fell on a cactus or something."

Friday, July 24, 2009

Watching, Listening, Smiling ...

(Canada chronicles continued ...)

Today I've been sitting with my laptop in Tinto coffee house on Roncesvalles Avenue, using their wireless and drinking tea. Everyone who has been/is in here with their laptop has a Mac. Some are white, some are black, mine is red.

For the time I've been here I've overheard several interesting conversations (mainly people meeting about art-writing-and-music-related things and sounding very focused and purposeful) ...

And I've been seeing interesting things through the window ...

... like the man who just passed by smiling with a bunch of sunflowers in plastic gift paper.

... now two women walking by smiling with a dog and talking.

... now woman walking by checking (or writing) a text message and smiling.

Everyone seems to be smiling! Except for this man now passing by (deep in thought, wrinkled face) ... woman with bag of grapes ... man scratching head ...

More smilers now: smiling, chatting young girl holding man's (father?) hand and he's holding a dog leash with a miniature Lassie attached to it. Dog is also smiling (tongue hanging from mouth)

Three young boys with a football, laughing.

Now two women - one wearing fedora and ripped jeans shorts with shirt enter door to Tintos, smiling. Young boy of about five in tow. The two women go to the counter to order something. The young boy sits at the table next to mine. The women are leaving. The one not wearing the fedora calls to the little boy: "Allons-y!" (French)

Now I smile (upon hearing the French) ... at the same time that the fedora woman glances at me, catches my smile, thinks I'm smiling at her and smiles back.

Sunny day, sunny smiles.

This is my third blog post for the day (First was about Guerilla Goodness. Second was the Article in Caribbean Camera).

Time to go ... to meet the friend who recommended Tinto to me and who lives just around the corner.

N.B. I may not blog much next week, as I'll be in Montreal and won't have internet access unless I take my laptop to the little café down the road. I may do that one day. But just in case I don't do it much (or at all), I may schedule some blog posts to fill the week.

Article in Caribbean Camera

(Canada Chronicles continued ...)

During the recent film festival I was interviewed by Jean Hodgkinson of The Caribbean Camera (a newspaper published weekly on Thursdays in Toronto and Fridays in Montreal).

Director’s Cut

We are not shadows. We exist.
- Euzhan Palcy -

Mme Palcy was fêted at this year’s fourth annual Caribbean Tales Film Festival. The theme, “Caribbean Film—A Tool for Education and Social Change,” was evident. On the page opposite, my compatriot Colin Rickards will help you get to know la Reine Cinéaste. Mingling freely she chatted enthusiastically with one and all granting interviews, it seemed from a distance, practically upon request. Never one to snub opportunity, I happily submitted to necessity. During our Saturday evening interview, not reviewed [ni traduit!] as of this writing, Mme Palcy employed a word I hadn’t yet heard her utter, not during the Q&A nor during her speech to accept the Award of Honour. That word was “revolution.”

It is perhaps no small coincidence this article is being written July 14. La Fête Nationale commemorates July 14, 1790, “which didn’t give France its soul,” said Henri Martin in 1880, as head of the Senate committee responsible for consecrating the holiday, “...but the Revolution made France conscious of herself.” The English-speaking world insists it be called Bastille Day, using the storming of the infamous Paris prison exactly a year earlier as its reference point, but it nevertheless remains inexorably linked to the profound social changes delivered by la Révolution. Mme Palcy was of course speaking of films, artistically, but it mattered little.

What was revolutionary intoned this Martinique-born Nefertiti, the “first black female director to be produced by a major Hollywood studio,” was that in her films an upstanding Sidney Poitier character did not have to pass his gun to an equally upstanding Michael Caine character in order to kill off a perfectly villainous white character. Many others at this year’s CTFF reinforced the argument that West Indians are, indeed have always been, participatory agents in history and not merely idle spectators. The explosion of filmmaking in the region simply means Le septième art is recognized as the best tool for people to tell their own stories and hence educate the world about the storytellers.

Christopher Laird, founder and CEO of Trinidad television’s Gayelle the Channel, presented a 44-minute package of the station’s live coverage of the Drummit 2 Summit protest. Held during April’s Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, it was organized by The Rights Action Group and Fishermen and Friends of the Sea. Although in April yours truly reported the Drummit 2 Summit protest attracted fewer media and police than the Independence Square protest, this opinion was formed within the Summit’s security perimeter as Gayelle’s cameras were recording well beyond it. “We were getting calls from other outlets to carry the live feed,” this year’s recipient of the CTFF Lifetime Achievement Award recalled.

“Gayelle is meant to be a touchstone, there as you channel surf,” Laird told me. Since its founding in 2004, Gayelle’s purpose has been to provide space for “street voices, a place where people can jump in and show what we can do. Sports and Carnival have been the only two outlets for 50 years.” But, he notes, the technological revolution of the past five years has made media production far more accessible to people. While demanding Gayelle “remain as nimble as possible,” this shift facilitates and encourages the kind of creative expression bottled up for too long in the Caribbean due to lack of technological resources. The spirit is both willing and able.

Elspeth Duncan said Gayelle provided a “large canvas” with which to hone her skills. Before shooting even began on her first film, the cameraman called in absent with a family emergency. “I had to shoot on my own. And then I realized I can do it myself,” she reminisced. Her film “Invisible,” an HIV/AIDS-awareness film, has aired on several Trinidad networks. It’s the story of discrimination faced by Veronica and her 4-year-old daughter, both of whom are HIV-positive, and her 8-year-old son, who isn’t. You don’t see faces, only hands and arms, children’s crayon drawings, faces behind curtains. Duncan didn’t want to digitally frost out faces, to avoid “perpetuating the idea that HIV must hide.” And Veronica the Invisible narrates her own family’s story.

So it went. A documentary on Carmen de Lavallade and Geoffrey Holder; music videos and full-length features; documentaries like “Gathering the Scattered Cousins,” in which Nigerian-born Akin Omotoso travels to his mother’s native Barbados for the first time, after her death. And as Elspeth Duncan noted, “The intimacy of the festival is good for connecting with people.” The films helped out in this regard, too.

14 juillet ’09

Guerilla Goodness

(Canada chronicles continued ...)

Yesterday I met a friend, Karen, at 3:00 p.m. to go on an art crawl. On the way up the subway steps, we bounced into a friend of hers, Kaspar. After standing and chatting for a while, we decided to continue our conversation over a meal. We ended up spending an enjoyable few hours in a Japanese restaurant, eating delicious food and mainly talking about art, since we're all artists.
Kaspar writing a message on a Post-It after dinnner

Toward the end of our time there, the topic of Post-It notes came up. I pulled out my blank Post-Its, explained the procedure and we each took turns writing positive messages on the notes (some of which were later surreptitiously stuck in places we visited). We gave it the name "Guerilla Goodness" ... in honour of secretly spreading goodness around the city.
From Post-It to Pavement ... more Guerilla Goodness

Interesting that the message Kaspar wrote on his Post-It was "Speak the Truth". Later, as Karen and I went art-gallery hopping, we came across a similar message in the above photo.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Intimate and Inspiring

(Canada chronicles continued ...)

Some of my film work has been screened at various festivals - in Trinidad and internationally, but until this year (apart from festivals in Trinidad) I've only ever physically been to two of the international festivals - both in England. The second one was the Commonwealth Vision Awards (2004), which wasn't really a festival - it was an award ceremony at which they screened the films of those of us who had been awarded.

The first was the Commonwealth Film Festival in Manchester (2003), where my film "All of Emily" was screened. It was a good experience, but perhaps because it was my 'first time' and I didn't know anyone, it was also a bit overwhelming. Opening night was a huge bee hive of people dressed in black, swarming around, greeting each other with dramatic 'Daaaaahhhhlings!' followed by the theatrical kissing of both cheeks and the exchanging of call cards and fancy postcards advertising films (none of which I had or knew anything about doing). It took a while for me to sink in.

In contrast, the recent 4th CaribbeanTales Film Festival (my third physically-attended international festival) was very intimate. I found this to be one of its strengths. The experience allowed everyone the opportunity to connect and interact easily with each other ... whether as founder, member of audience, film maker, organizer, volunteer, member of the media or guest of honour (who, this year, was Euzhan Palcy).
(l. to r.): Euzhan Palcy and Frances-Anne Solomon at CTFF 2009
Source of photo

I think it's safe to say that everyone there was struck by Euzhan Palcy's ageless beauty, grounded energy and humility. I don't think she needed to speak much. Her work and her presence speak on her behalf. But when she did speak at length on the Saturday of the festival, in an interview with Professor Elizabeth Nunez, it was fascinating ... hearing of her life, inspiration and evolution as a film maker.

In her early years in Martinique, among other things, she used to write short stories, lock her brothers in a room with her (so they wouldn't escape once they were bored) and direct them in acting out her plots. They were always anxious to hear what was going to happen next in these 'productions'. It took me back to my own childhood when I would write short stories and books for my sisters, read to them and stage productions (not locking them in the room though), using their various dolls as the actors and the bed as the stage/location. My sisters would eagerly await the next episodes and sequels.
Carmen and Geoffrey
Source of Photo

The beautifully produced opening night documentary - "Carmen and Geoffrey" was well selected. The love and passion these two share(d) for each other, their art and life in general was highly moving and emotive ... not only to me, but to others who commented on it post-screening. Through the film I saw their life partnership as a spontaneous, creative, combustive and alive experience - still ongoing. Early in the movie, Geoffrey, riding in a car, tells the camera that when he set eyes on Carmen for the first time, he knew she would be his. Four days later he proposed, she accepted and the rest is history.

How many can dive with such passion and immediacy into something or someone that they don't even 'know'?

I remember someone once tritely commenting to me (on the heels of an earlier CTFF) that the festival was small and simply consisted of the founder's friends and family. Being there this year I noted that the festival did indeed feel like a gathering of family and friends - literally and otherwise. The air of familiarity and fraternity placed icons not on lofty pedestals, but as neighbours on chairs around cosy tables with everyone, as equals. It was the 'friends and family' aspect of the CTFF that embraced us all as an integral part of the bigger picture.

You live and learn. This time I made little quarter-page flyers advertising Emily,
with links to the CTFF
. Photocopied and guillotined at Kinko's on Bloor. Handed out to people in the area.

On a more personal note, what was this festival for me?

From my observation, audiences (whether small or more sizeable) were appreciative and respectful of the films they viewed. The feedback I got for my two (especially "Invisible") was good.

I reconnected with some people I already knew and haven't seen in a while and made connections with new ones (including other film makers) from Canada and the Caribbean.

I got interviewed by the Caribbeancamera newspaper and one of the TV stations.

I met up again with Professor Nunez (with whom I'd done a writing course at UTT last year) and she gave me the impetus to get back to working on my novel, Lily.

I got to speak/practice French a few times (inclusive of telling two French visitors about mon roman).

I was reminded of a few things ... one of them being that time waits on no one, that focus and dedication are of the essence and that one must find/know and follow/live one's passions. What else is there?

Most of all, I was grateful to this festival for being the catalyst in my decision to return now to Toronto. For both obvious and inexplicable reasons, TO has captured my heart and spirit in a way that no other place (to date) has. I had been intending to come later in the year ... but when I unexpectedly got the email about the CTFF, something in my heart blazed open in a way that I had not felt in a long while and I knew that, for whatever it was worth, I had to go there now. (Guided by a "Magical Raven" - long story). I knew the blazing heart feeling wasn't specifically about the festival. It was/is about something larger and more ongoing ... i.e. being alive, following my heart and trusting where it leads me even when I don't always know and understand exactly why.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cleansing and Clearing

(Canada chronicles continued ...)

Yesterday afternoon when I left home around 3:00, it wasn't raining. By the time Kelly and I met at Bathurst station for 4:30, it was. We were meeting to go to the labyrinth. On the way there (got off at Queen subway station) we went to Henry's and I bought Supernova, my new Canon Elph who took the pics below. By the time we left Henry's, the rain was heavier. We put plastic bags on our heads and walked to the labyrinth.
Because of the fairly heavy rain, we momentarily wondered if we should take a 'rain check' on the labyrinth walk. "But just come and see something first," I said to Kelly. I took her to see the special finger labyrinth near the entrance to the walking one ... designed for the blind. When I had seen it a few days ago, I found it to be so thoughtful that I wanted it to be the first thing I would take a shot of if/when I bought a new camera. (But it turned out to be about the third or fourth thing I took a shot of).
I was impressed by the fact that there's even something (the explanation, perhaps) written in Braille (which in this shot looks like butterfly eggs).
Once near to the labyrinth it was hard to resist its magnetic pull. Rain or no rain. We walked in purposeful silence, wearing our plastic bags (Kelly wore a Henry's bag, I wore an Honest Ed's one). I had opted to bring the bags because the last two times I'd walked the lab I noticed it was really dirty, with everything from cigarette butts to Tim Horton's debris. As I walked ahead of Kelly, I picked up the rubbish (mainly soggy cig butts) on the path (using green Post-It notes as 'gloves' so I wouldn't have to touch the rubbish directly) and put it into my other Honest Ed's bag. Not only did I feel like I was 'clearing the way' and removing obstacles from our path, but it felt like an act of gratitude to this sacred labyrinth which gives so much to whoever walks it. The falling rain added to the overall cleansing.

I've walked labyrinths many times, but something about this particular walk felt like my best ever.
Afterwards, still wearing our plastic hats, we wandered smiling in the rain, amidst umbrellas and raincoats on our way to Dundas Station.
The door that stopped in front of us when the train pulled in had this lipstick heart on it. I think the message in this image is saying: Don't push or rush or hold onto the door to Love. Let it come to you and open automatically.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Meet Supernova

(Canada chronicles continued ...)
I didn't bring my SLR with me to Canada because I knew I wouldn't feel to lug it around everywhere in its napsack. I would have preferred just a small camera to toss in my bag, but my Canon A620 point and shoot, which had given me about 4 years of service, had conked out.

I was doing fine without a camera (just using the one on the laptop for basic blogging photos) ... but this evening I went and bought a Canon Elph. At the advice of my friend Jayme, I went to Henry's Outlet Store at corner of Queen and Church Streets and ended up getting the camera for a steal of a deal ... about $50CAD less (tax and carrying pouch inclusive) than I would have gotten it at Best Buy (without a bag).

I fell in love with my Elph as soon as I touched it. It's small and power-packed. I've already taken some shots with it (great colour and clarity) on this evening's rainy labyrinth adventure with Kelly. (Will blog about that tomorrow).

Welcome, Supernova!

Bursting with excitement?

(Canada chronicles continued ...)
In Toronto two years ago
(lying on 'the beach' with new drumming friends

Since being here, a few of my things which were giving no signs of being on their 'last legs' have suddenly and unexpectedly started to 'mash up'.

The first thing to go was my favourite pair of shoes: sturdy, comfortable brown leather Hush Puppies, which I had bought in Toronto in 2007 and have worn almost every day since (see brown shoes in above pic). In fact, some time ago I was sitting with Kelly (drinking fresh vegetable smoothies in Kensington Market) and talking proudly about how strong these shoes were, how far I had walked in them over the past two years and more so since being here ... and then a day or two later, I noticed that the seam on the left shoe had come undone and the shoe was beginning to yawn.

When I went to Montreal, I took the shoes to a shoemaker, hoping they could be stitched back. He explained that he would need to put an extra piece of leather here and stitch this part to there and even then that may not work, plus it would cost me $23 dollars ... so I realised it didn't make sense and told him to "Poussez mes choissures dans le poubelle, s'il vous plaît" (put my shoes in the bin, please).

He did so like a basketballer.

Lately I've noticed that my suitcase is also suddenly showing signs of wear and tear - the nature of which could mean that I'll have to purchase a new one before flying back to TT in September.

A few days ago the handle of one of my market bags, laden with kale, broccoli, purple cabbage and other weighty edibles, burst on me as I was walking to get a street car.
And today I noticed that my "cross body tote", (as my fashionista friend Moka calls it) is also on its last. Between last night and this morning, yet another of the inner pockets has burst its bottom and become one with the interior.

Time for new things.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Nothing is a coincidence

(Canada Chronicles continued ...)
One day last week when I was in Montreal I was walking with my cousin. We passed a shop displaying some brightly coloured images on fridge magnets and coasters for $1 each. I was drawn to a bright image of Cupid. My cousin was drawn to the image featured above. We made our purchases. As soon as she paid for the angel, she turned and gave it to me.

Maybe because I was in a French speaking place, the name Celestine popped into my head as I looked at the image of the angel. I then remembered the 'Celestine Prophecy' and the fact that there is no such thing as 'a coincidence'. Before we continued along our way, I said to Celestine (in French): "Show us signs along our path that lead us to the answers we need right now to advance our lives in accordance with our happiness."

Along the way, we passed many signs that had the word "Angel" in them ... whether on advertising, the names of buildings or even embedded within names of streets (e.g. Blvd Langelier). 'Coincidence'? Were we looking for it? Or was there really some kind of angelic presence?

We were on our way to look for a labyrinth in a park about 2 hours away on foot. As we walked, we were talking of a few things ... one of which was 'fear'. I was telling her that everyone feels fear at some point and that we need to push past it to get to the next level and where we want to be. At that moment I had looked at Celestine again and the cross she was carrying reminded me of an image I had seen once of my hero since childhood - Joan of Arc. How relevant. I started to tell my cousin about Joan and two of her quotes which I love:

(i) I am not afraid, I was born to do this
(ii) Act and God will act

Just a few seconds later, I looked up as we were about to cross a street... and right before us was a street sign: Blvd Jeanne d'Arc! (Joan of Arc Boulevard)

We were blown away. Coincidence or confirmation? Long story, but in that moment I confirmed the decision to extend my stay here an extra month.
Yesterday I was walking through town with a friend and saw this stick (above image) on the ground. It's the second one I've found since being here. It's in the shape of a divining rod. I see these "Y" shaped sticks as a sign that I'm being assisted in finding something important to me.

As my friend and I walked, I was telling her (relevant to our conversation) about a time I was in a meeting (in TT) and one of my peers had run out of the room, traumatised by a phonecall that a very dear friend of hers had been killed that morning in a car accident. After a while of several of us comforting her, I offered to take her home and stay with her until her sister came to keep her company. On the drive to her apartment, I didn't know what to say. What do you say to someone who has emitted such gutteral cries of grief and is still reeling in shock? The only thing that came to me was to ask her what were the things that she loved most about him ... what were some of her favourite memories of their times together ... what kind of person was he?

This kept her talking about things that she found pleasant, even though sad (given the circumstances). At one point, just before reaching her apartment, I saw a car heading toward us. It had her deceased friend's name (NICHOLAS) emblazoned across its windscreen in red with a huge red heart next to it.

"Look! He's hearing you talk about him and he's sending to say he loves you!" I exclaimed.

Coincidence? Confirmation? Consolation?

So ... I was telling my friend this story as we walked yesterday in Toronto with my divining rod ... and lo and behold, just as I finished telling it to her, we stopped to cross a street, I looked up ... and we both gasped as my finger pointed to the name of the street:

St. Nicholas St.

Coincidence? It gave us the confirmation that we are on the right path and are being guided.


Set aside 9 minutes 24 seconds to look at the short film called "Spider".
Simple and (literally) striking.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tickets for two to the other side of Paradise

(Canada chronicles continued ...)
Mug shot

Yesterday I went to a barbeque at the Toronto Women's Bookstore (TWB). There was an array of (free) food out in the back and, indoors, there were intimate readings, musical performances and a ten minute introductory talk on finding your (or someone else's) G-spot.

In between performances there were giveaways. For each prize, a question was posed to the audience (something about the store or a book or CD in the store) and the correct answer would win the answerer a bag of goodies from the store. I was wishing I knew at least one answer ... but not being familiar with the contents of the store, I didn't think that I would know any.

At one point between performances I was talking to my friend Dara and asked her how come she wasn't performing.

She said: "I'll be performing at the Stacey Ann Chin event."

"When is that?" I asked her.

"15th of August."

After a great final performance came the last win-a-give-away question:

"On what date is the Stacey Ann Chin show?"

Just as I was thinking: "Wow - I just asked that question!" ... a voice in the back called out: "26th of August!"

But that wasn't it.

My mind quickly flew back to when I was standing on the step with Dara about half an hour before. The number 15 seemed to ring a bell. "15th of August!" I said.

Yes, that was it. I won a TWB mug and two tickets to the Stacey Ann Chin show.
Tickets for two to the other side of paradise

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Back in Toronto ... and a Pod update

(Canada chronicles continued ...)

Got back to Toronto last night after a week in Montreal ... which was rainy and 'cold' - more like Autumn. But I like that crisp temperature.

Great news for Pod fans. I got an update a few days ago from Detta about her.
N.B. I refer to her as 'she', but Detta refers to her as 'he' ...

Pod is flying strongly these days and this is his third night out. He has just started to feed himself but prefers to be fed! I started him off by putting a feeding table outside, but against the flight cage, where he could see the familiar environment, but he very quickly graduated to the table under the mango trees. He spends his days in the trees and flies about the back yard. At first I collected him and brought him in every night then he started eluding me, so I took the risk and left him to do what he saw the other birds doing. He is still very small for his breed and still has feather fluff, but he is a real little character.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Driving to Montreal (a video poem)

(Canada chronicles continued ...)

While driving to Montreal with my cousin Gene, I used the camera on my laptop to shoot this footage and quickly edited it as we were on the road. The music is a short track I quickly put together in Reason and looped it for the length of the video.

Les arbres me regardent.
Je les regarde aussi.
Le ciel est content
Nous sommes contents aussi.

The trees are looking at me.
I look at them too.
The sky is happy.
We are happy too.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Salut de Montréal

(Canada chronicles continued ...)Sun coming in through the sunroof on the way to Montreal

Maintenant je suis a Montreal.
Now I am in Montreal.

Je suis arrivée Lundi, la nuit.
I arrived on Monday night.

Je reste ici jusqu'à vendredi.
I'm staying here until Friday.

Donc je vais autre fois à Toronto.
Then I'll go again to Toronto.

Je suis dans un petit café ou il y a l’internet (wireless). On doit acheter quelque chose à boire ou à manger et l’internet est libre.
I am in a little café where there is wireless internet. You buy something to eat or drink and the internet is free.

Je parle français avec personnes. J'aime parler en français.
I am speaking French with people. I like to speak in French.

Je pense qu’il y a beaucoup de fautes dans mon français, mais c’est okay. Je pratique.
I think there are lots of errors in my French but that’s okay. I’m practicing.

Il fait froid à Montréal (plus que Toronto), avec la pluie. “Ce n’est pas comme été,” tout le monde disent.
It is cold in Montreal (more than Toronto), with rain. “It’s not like summer,” everyone is saying.

Montréal est okay, mais je prefière Toronto.
Montreal is okay, but I prefer Toronto.

Coincidence! Comme j'ai écrit ça ... les deux femmes près de moi ont commencé à parler de Toronto. Une femme a dit qu'elle n'était jamais aller là. L'autre lui a dit: "Toronto is huuuuuge!"
Coincidence! As I wrote that, the two women near to me began talking about Toronto. One woman said she has never been there. The other told her: "Toronto is huuuuuuge!"

Thursday, July 9, 2009

4th CaribbeanTales Film Festival starts today

(Canada Chronicles ...)

As Canada’s premier standalone Caribbean film festival, CaribbeanTales presents the best Caribbean films from around the world.

July 9 - 12th 2009
William Doo Auditorium,
45 Willcocks St.,
Toronto, ON

Tickets are available now through the University of Toronto Box Office at UofTtix Box Office, (416) 978-8849 or Uof T's Central Box Office, open Mon-Fri 11am-5pm in Hart House, U of T.
"Elliot, about my cremation. There's one thing I want you to do for me when it's over ..."
Photo: Elspeth Duncan

Two of my films, "INVISIBLE" and "ALL OF EMILY" will be screened on Friday 10th July 2009 from 7:00 p.m. for "Trinidad Night" at the 4th CaribbeanTales Film Festival, which starts today.

"Trinidad Night" will feature "an explosion of new work by film and TV creators from the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago."
See Emily trailer here.

Experience the 4th CaribbeanTales Film Festival this weekend in TO.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I'm Flying (... and so is Pod)

Tomorrow I am leaving for Toronto, where I will be for a month. I haven't even reached yet and already that time seems too short. For no other reason than being there, my heart lights up, my spirit expands, I feel really excited and I can't put it into words.

I got a totally unexpected email about three - four weeks ago saying that two of my films, Invisible (which you may have seen online already) and All of Emily will be screened at the 4th Caribbean Tales Film Festival and would I be coming up. Yes!! Anything to go to TO. I'd been planning a return visit this year anyway, for other reasons, but this fast forwarded me. The festival is only 4 days, which leaves the rest of the month to enjoy.

In no order of importance ... I'm looking forward to spending quality time with a variety of friends who live abroad and who either reside in TO or will be in town when I am there. (Many of them I haven't seen in decades!) I'm looking forward to reconnecting with new friends made the last time I was in TO in 2007. Looking forward to spending time with my friend Tamara on her turf (we met when she came here to work on a film and she returns about once a year to shoot. We always have a ball and good laughs together). Looking forward to meeting up with a creative partner with whom I've thus far created some lovely works (not yet released) and with some others with whom I may be creating in the future. Looking forward to a few days in Montreal - to surprise my cousin (I hope she's not reading this) and speak French! Looking forward to immersing myself in raw organic heaven! And all of that 'looking forward' is just scraping the surface. There's so much more.

Most of all I am looking forward to just being open and surrendering to whatever is to be as each day unfolds. Whatever it is, it will be great.
I won't be carrying any of my cameras (Karishma or Synchronicity - whom I've decided to rename Phoenix, since she rose from the ashes). Neither will I be carrying Dandelion, my drum which I bought in TO in 2007. I'm traveling light. I will do my best to keep my suitcase light as well (I usually overpack). In terms of equipment, I'll just carry Satya ... and, depending on my internet availability wherever I am, I will blog daily as usual.

In keeping with my own 'flight', the latest update on Pod is that she is now flying from perch to perch and will soon be moved to the flight cage, where she can begin to really spread her wings before being released.
(l to r): Pod and Companion
Photo courtesy: Detta Buch